Acrylic vs. Polycarbonate Plastic: Which Is Right for You?

September 29, 2017 1:36 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The term “plastic” is a catch-all for a wide range of materials. Both acrylic and polycarbonate are often simply just called “plastic,” despite their differences, which can make it confusing when deciding which material to use in a project.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a simple comparison of the two products, which should help you understand their individual strengths and how they differ from each other, despite both being “plastic.”


Everyone’s heard of acrylic, but not everyone knows exactly what it is. The simplest way to think of acrylic is to think of it as Plexiglas, which is a name brand of acrylic, and one almost everyone already knows about. In fact, because of its wide variety of uses, most people have probably already used this material in some project or another. Some popular uses for acrylic include:

  • Windows: Camper, helicopter, airplane, submarine and even some home windows are regularly made of acrylic, as is the spectator protection at an ice hockey arena. Acrylic, or Plexiglas, can be quite rugged under pressure and does not shatter, making it ideal for these applications.
  • Police riot vehicles: Acrylic is even rugged enough to be used in police riot control vehicles!
  • Aquariums: That five-gallon aquarium in your bedroom? It’s probably made from acrylic plastic sheets in Utah. So is the 100,000-gallon tank filled with sea turtles and tiger sharks at your city aquarium. While it’s definitely true that polycarbonate is, on the whole, more rugged and powerful than acrylic, these examples should tell you how rugged and powerful acrylic is in its own right.


It’s also a transparent plastic that is extraordinarily rugged, rugged enough to bear heavy loads and take quite the beating. Its name brands are not quite so well known as “Plexiglas,” but you may have heard it called Lexan or Makrolon before, which are trademarked names owned by GE and Bayer, respectively. Some uses for polycarbonate include:

  • CDs and DVDs: Without using a rugged polycarbonate, CDs and DVDs would become chipped so quickly they wouldn’t be useful.
  • Police riot shields: Because they need to be able to take the impact of small improvised explosives and even small-caliber bullets, polycarbonate makes an excellent material for police riot shields.
  • Bulletproof glass: Is there a better test of material strength? At high thicknesses, polycarbonate is bulletproof.
  • Computers and cell phones: It makes a great material for computer monitors and phone screens, as well as for computer and phone bodies.

Purchase polycarbonate sheets in Utah

Clearly, both of these plastics are rugged, impressive materials. If you’re deciding between the two for your own product, the main things to consider are that acrylic is less likely to scratch, whereas polycarbonate is less likely to break or chip. Acrylic keeps its clarity longer and is much lighter, whereas polycarbonate is so rugged it can be used as bulletproof glass when thick enough. Polycarbonate is much more expensive, so unless your product really needs the incredible strength it offers, it’s likely you’ll go with acrylic. But if you truly do need a material that is industrial strength, you can’t go wrong with polycarbonate. It’s one of the strongest, most versatile materials available—especially if you absolutely have to use a transparent material.

If you’re in the market for either of these materials, give us a call at D&D Plastics. We produce polycarbonate and acrylic plastic sheets in Utah, and also offer a variety of design services that can help you at any stage in the production process, from prototyping new products to producing and shipping complete products at scale. We also have some of the best prices on acrylic and polycarbonate sheets in all of Utah so, no matter your needs, we can help!

Categorised in:

This post was written by Writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *